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The Berejiklian government is expected to commit to a feasibility study to identify the best route for faster rail services to connect regional areas to Sydney.
With the Liberal-National coalition entering campaign mode ahead of the state poll in March, the government is understood to be set to announce as early as this week that it will consider the feasibility of as many as four routes for high speed, or faster rail services.
The most likely routes to be considered include Sydney-Canberra via the new $5 billion-plus airport at Badgerys Creek, and Sydney-Newcastle.
A commitment to a feasibility study will place the prospect of faster rail on Australia's east coast on the agenda for both the federal and state elections next year.
Three business cases for faster rail on the country's east coast – one of which will consider the viability of a line between Newcastle and Sydney – are also due to be completed early next year after the federal government set aside funding in March.
High-speed rail is set to return to the agenda during the NSW and federal election campaigns.CREDIT:AFR
Transport sources said the most viable route for a faster train line was Sydney-Goulburn-Canberra.
"But you can't build it without federal funding," one said.
The state government is already committed to new transport projects, such as a metro line from Sydney's CBD to Parramatta and a second motorway tunnel under Sydney Harbour, whose combined cost will run into the tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.
A new line for a fast train from Sydney to Newcastle is likely to be prohibitively expensive because the terrain would require a significant length to run through tunnels.
In July, NSW Labor promised to commit funding for a study into reducing the four-hour train journey time between Sydney and Canberra if it is elected to government at the state election next March.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said several months ago during a trip to Japan that she would "love to see high-speed rail servicing" the state but noted that it would need to go beyond NSW and would require federal funding for it to become viable.
The Premier's office declined to comment on Monday.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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